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TOKYO/NEW DELHI: Japan will propose a strategic dialogue among leaders of the United States, India and Australia, aiming at counteracting China’s expansion under its “Belt and Road” policy, foreign minister Taro Kono told the Nikkei business daily.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to propose the idea to US President Donald Trump on November 6 when they plan to hold a summit meeting, said the Nikkei on Thursday.
The proposal is for the leaders of the four nations to promote free trade and defence cooperation across the land and sea to Southeast, South and Central Asia, and beyond to the Middle East and Africa, Kono said in the interview with the Nikkei conducted on Wednesday.
“We are in an era when Japan has to exert itself diplomatically by drawing a big strategic picture,” Kono was quoted as saying.
“To maintain free and open ocean, the economy and security will surely be on the table,” he said.
Kono said the aim was to also promote high-quality infrastructure investment across Asia to Africa.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s vast “Belt and Road” infrastructure project was included in the ruling Communist Party’s constitution on Tuesday, giving it greater policy heft and added pressure to succeed.
The “Belt and Road” plan, a “Silk Road”-like initiative, is a vehicle for China to take a greater role on the international stage by funding and building global transport and trade links in more than 60 countries.
‘Every movie does not require a villain’
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said Indo-Japan cooperation and joint connectivity initiatives should not be described as a competition to anyone.
“We have the silk road. We probably have more ownership on the silk road than anybody else, even if… we lost the branding on the route. But the point is that we have a certain view of how connectivity projects should come about. So, what we laid out earlier in the year was our viewpoint and at that point there were concerns saying we are getting isolated,” Jaishankar said at an event in Delhi.
Jaishankar also said but if you see the developments in last two months, one can see many of the concerns that India articulated in the summer have become topic of international concerns.
“We hear this with Japan, we hear this with the US and we hear this in Europe. So, in some ways, I think it is important that we have a view point, the conviction to speak up. We can not always be a follower or an abstainer on the big international debates,” he added.
Responding to another question on presence of a “villain” in the growing “romance” between India and Japan, the foreign secretary said the relationship between them has a larger value for Asia, considering the investments done by the two giants in several countries.
“Every movie, does not require a villain,” the foreign secretary quipped.
Speaking at the event, Kenji Hiramatsu, Japanese envoy to India, emphasised on deepening cooperation between the two countries in the areas of defence and infrastructure.
Jaishankar also said that Japan is a mirror image of India.
“There is clear convergence there for everyone to see. The challenge is that we may agree intellectually but the hard work (for collaboration) will require much deeper economic relation that is happening,” he said, citing the technological collaborations like the bullet train project and other infra works.